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World Nuclear Energy Day: Spotlighting nuclear’s success on the world stage

By John Gorman, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association
December 2, 2021

Today, December 2, is World Nuclear Energy Day – a great opportunity to reflect on what a pivotal year 2021 has been for the nuclear industry. We have seen significant momentum building, both nationally in Canada and globally, to help tackle some of the biggest challenges our planet and humanity faces.

There continues to be a strong focus on clean nuclear energy and its fundamental role in helping the world achieve a net-zero carbon emissions future, as well as nuclear’s critical role in helping fight the pandemic and drive medical advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of numerous diseases.

Over the last few weeks alone, the industry has gained momentous ground through a series of events and initiatives, including COP26, the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris, and in the lead up to World Nuclear Energy Day.

Having recently returned from COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, I am greatly encouraged by the focus on clean nuclear to help fight the biggest crisis we face – climate change.

Much discussion focused on the opportunity that nuclear innovation presents, including from a group of 12 union chiefs from across Europe that reinforced to global leaders the urgency of nuclear as a key practical and proven means to get to net zero. In a written submission, the group noted that “people are crying out for practical solutions that offer real hope in a green economy,” and that “every serious expert analysis confirms that we need nuclear to hit net zero.” A sentiment echoed by Mark Carney in his role as the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.

It is very apparent that global leaders, environmentalists, and climate change scientists recognize the integral role nuclear must play to reach net-zero 2050 and drive a prosperous and sustainable green economy. In many cases, countries have made substantial commitments to nuclear technology through a mix of public and private investments.

In the last few weeks alone, we have seen a number of countries announce significant investments in nuclear technology as part of their net-zero path, including $200 million in SMR investments in the U.K., $1 billion in France and $2 billion in the U.S. This is on top of the $6 billion the U.S. has committed to investing in existing reactors and the billions that will be needed for France’s plans to build new large reactors.

The nuclear industry has continued to play a fundamental role in the efforts to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. From ensuring critical electricity supplies are maintained, to supplying countries across the world with essential isotopes to help keep hospitals safe, and the continued provision of nuclear medicine to help diagnose and treat millions of people across the world.

Through 2021, CNA has continued to focus on driving understanding and awareness of the nuclear industry, as well as building and strengthening alliances and partnerships.

As part of its efforts, the CNA has generated around 200 positive media articles in the last three months alone to help ensure people are equipped with the facts and science behind the benefits and opportunities that nuclear presents.

We also continue to focus on building memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with international partners, serving to leverage a collaborative approach to meet our common goals, including addressing climate change. This includes encouraging our respective governments and international agencies to include nuclear as a clean energy technology to meet climate change objectives through events such as COP, Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and IAEA initiatives.

Over the past few years, the CNA has signed four MOUs with its international partners in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Japan. At the WNE in Paris this week, we signed three more MOUs, with the Romanian Atomic Forum (ROMATOM), the Group of French Nuclear Energy Industrialists (GIFEN), and the French Nuclear Energy Society (SFEN). Earlier this year, the CNA signed a letter with other nuclear associations urging world leaders to include nuclear in their climate and clean energy policies. We have also participated in two nuclear leaders’ summits this year.

I feel immensely proud to work in an industry that continues to play such an integral role in building a better future. International collaboration across the industry will continue to be vital in the journey to leverage the full potential of nuclear to help steer the world on the path to net-zero and drive social, environmental, health, and economic benefits as part of the green economy.

We look forward to working together through 2022 as an international community.

Together, we can help build a better future for many generations to come.

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